According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 222 individuals believed by many to be political prisoners of Daniel Ortega’s administration have flown to Washington. According to Blinken, the inmates “have experienced lengthy unlawful detentions” and have been jailed “for exercising their fundamental liberties.”
“The release of these individuals, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, by the government of Nicaragua marks a constructive step towards addressing human rights abuses in the country and opens the door to further dialogue between the United States and Nicaragua regarding issues of concern,” Blinken said.
According to him, political and business executives, journalists, members of civic society, and students were among those on board. Blinken gave “concerted American diplomacy” the credit.
Ortega has remained adamant that his detained rivals and other individuals were behind the 2018 street protests, which he alleges were an attempt to topple him. Since Nicaraguan security forces ruthlessly put down those anti-government protests, tens of thousands have fled into exile. The most recent estimate of “political prisoners” detained by the Nicaraguan opposition was 245.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Nicaragua had identified 224 prisoners to be sent on the plane, but two declined. They were not placed.
The nongovernmental organization Mechanism for Recognition of Political Detainees prepared a list of 39 prisoners who weren’t aboard the plane, including Roman Catholic Bishop Rolando Lvarez.
According to Price, anyone who traveled to Washington of their own volition would be granted humanitarian parole allowing them to remain in the nation for two years. The Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection, and the government were in charge of the hotels where they were sleeping, and they would collaborate with humanitarian organizations to assist in their resettlement.
According to Price, the Nicaraguan government granted these people the chance to visit the United States. “When I say this is the result of American engagement, as you know, we have long campaigned for their release as a first step towards the restoration of democracy and an improved environment for human rights in Nicaragua.”
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Back in Nicaragua, a judge read a statement saying the 222 prisoners had been “deported.”
The deportation, according to magistrate Octavio Rothschuh of the Managua Appeals court, was carried out under a Wednesday decision that labeled the convicts as “traitors to the country.” He said their removal resulted from their acts undermining Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty.
Later on Thursday, a constitutional amendment allowing for the deportation of “traitors” was unanimously passed by Nicaragua’s Congress. A second vote will be necessary for the upcoming legislative session later this year.